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RULE §91.8000Discovery of Confidential Information

(a) Policy. The legislature has determined that certain information is confidential and, with limited exceptions, should not be disclosed. See Texas Finance Code, §126.002. Non-disclosure under this section protects the stability of credit unions by preventing disclosures that could adversely impact the institutions. Inappropriate disclosures can result in substantial harm to credit unions and to those persons and entities (including other financial institutions) that have relationships with them. For example, the department may criticize a credit union in an examination report for a financial weakness that does not currently threaten the solvency of the credit union. If improperly disclosed, the criticism can lead to adverse impacts such as the possibility of a "run," short-term liquidity problems, or volatility in costs of funds, which in turn can exacerbate the problem and cause the failure of the credit union. These failures lead to reduced access to credit and greater risk to depositors. Further, since specific loans may be criticized in an examination report, confidentiality of the information protects the financial privacy of borrowers. Finally, protecting confidential information from disclosure facilitates the free exchange of information between the credit union and the regulator, encourages candor, and promotes regulatory responsiveness and effectiveness. Information that does not fall within the meaning of confidential information as defined in this section may be confidential under other definitions and controlled by other laws, and is not subject to this section.

(b) Disclosure prohibited. Pursuant to Finance Code §126.002, the department has an absolute privilege against disclosure of its confidential information. Discovery of confidential information from a person subject to §126.002 must comply with subsection (c) of this section. Only a person to whom confidential information has been released pursuant to §126.002 or this rule may disclose that information to another, and only in accordance with that section and this rule.

(c) Discovery of confidential information. A credit union, governmental agency, credit union service organization, service provider, or insuring organization that receives a subpoena or other form of discovery for the release of information that is confidential under §126.002 of the Act shall promptly:

  (1) notify the department of the request;

  (2) provide the department with a copy of the discovery documentation and, if requested by the department, a copy of the requested information; and

  (3) move for a protective order, or its equivalent under applicable rules of procedure. In addition, prior to the release of confidential information, such credit union, governmental agency, credit union service organization, service provider, or insuring organization must obtain a ruling on its motion in accordance with this section. Confidential information may be released only pursuant to a protective order, or its equivalent, in a form consistent with that set out in this section and only if a court with jurisdiction has found that:

    (A) the party seeking the information has a substantial need for the information;

    (B) the information is directly relevant to the legal dispute in issue; and

    (C) the party seeking the information is unable without undue hardship to obtain its substantial equivalent by other means.

(d) Discretionary filings by department. On receipt of notice under subsection (c) of this section, the department may take action as may be appropriate to protect confidential information. The department has standing to intervene in a suit or administrative hearing for the purpose of filing a motion for protective order and in camera inspection in accordance with this section.

(e) Motion for protective order, or equivalent, and in camera inspection. The movant shall ask the court to enter an order in accordance with this section regarding the release of confidential information. If necessary to resolve a dispute regarding the confidential status or direct relevance of any information sought to be released, the party seeking the order shall move for an in camera inspection of the pertinent information. Until subject to a protective order, or its equivalent, confidential information may not be released, and, if necessary, the party seeking an order shall request the court officer to deny discovery of such confidential information.

(f) Protective order or equivalent. An order obtained pursuant to the terms of this section must:

  (1) specifically bind each party to the litigation, including one who becomes a party to the suit after the order is entered, each attorney of record, and each person who becomes privy to the confidential information as a result of its disclosure under the terms of the order;

  (2) describe in general terms the confidential information to be produced;

  (3) state substantially the following in the body of the order:

    (A) absent court order to the contrary, only the court reporter and attorneys of record in the cause may copy confidential information produced under the order in whole or part;

    (B) the attorneys of record are custodians responsible for all originals and copies of confidential information produced under the order and must insure that disclosure is limited to those persons specified in the order;

    (C) confidential information subject to the order and all information derived there from may be used only for the purposes of the trial, appeal, or other proceedings in the case in which it is produced;

    (D) confidential information to be filed or included in a filing in the case must be filed with the clerk separately in a sealed envelope bearing suitable identification, and is available only to the court and to those persons authorized by the order to receive confidential information, and all originals and copies made of such documents and records must be kept under seal and disclosed only in accordance with the term of the protective order;

    (E) confidential information produced under the order may be disclosed only to the following persons and only after counsel has explained the terms of the order to the person who will receive the information and provided that person with a copy of the order;

      (i) to a party and to an officer, employee, or representative of a party, to a party's attorneys (including other members and associates of the respective law firms and contract attorneys in connection with work on the case) and, to the extent an attorney of record in good faith determines disclosure is necessary or appropriate for the conduct of the litigation, legal assistants, office clerks and secretaries working under the attorney's supervision;

      (ii) to a witness or potential witness in the case;

      (iii) to an outside expert retained for consultation or for testimony, provided the expert agrees to be bound by the terms of the order and the party employing the expert agrees to be responsible for the compliance by its expert with this confidentiality obligation; and

      (iv) to the court or to an appellate officer or body with jurisdiction of an appeal in the case;

    (F) at the request of the department or a party, only the court, the parties and their attorneys, and other persons the court reasonably determines should be present may attend the live testimony of a witness or discussions or oral arguments before the court that may include confidential information or relate to such confidential information. The parties shall request the court to instruct all persons present at such testimony, discussions, or arguments that release of confidential information is strictly forbidden;

    (G) a transcript, including a deposition transcript, that may include confidential information subject to non-disclosure is subject to the order. The party requesting the testimony of a current or former department officer, employee, or agent shall, at its expense, furnish the department a copy of the transcript of the testimony once it has been transcribed.

    (H) Upon ultimate conclusion of the case by final judgment and the expiration of time to appeal, or by settlement or otherwise, counsel for each party shall return all copies of every document subject to the order for which the counsel is custodian to the party that produced the confidential information; and

    (I) Production of documents subject to the order does not waive a claim of privilege or right to withhold the documents from a person not subject to the order.

  (4) Paragraph (3)(A), (B) and (E) - (H) of this subsection are subject to modification by the court for good cause before the conclusion of the proceeding, after giving the department notice and an opportunity to appear.

Source Note: The provisions of this §91.8000 adopted to be effective March 14, 2004, 29 TexReg 2638; amended to be effective July 12, 2009, 34 TexReg 4513

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